Perhaps no one has benefited more from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers'
surprising turnaround this season than Dewey Selmon's
long-distance telephone carrier. Since the Bucs beat the Detroit
Lions 24-17 on Sept. 7 for the second victory in what would
become a season-opening five-game winning streak, Selmon, a
former Tampa Bay linebacker, who lives in Norman, Okla., has
been regularly ringing up his younger (by 11 months) brother,
Lee Roy, a former Buccaneers defensive end, in Tampa. "Every
week I've been calling Lee Roy and asking, 'What's with the
Bucs?'" says Dewey, 44. "I was always wondering if they were for
real or just a flash."
In 1979 the Selmons heard that question after Tampa Bay, a
perennial loser that once dropped 26 straight games, started the
season 3-0. In Week 4 the Bucs silenced disbelievers by dumping
the powerful Los Angeles Rams 21-6. One of Dewey's tackles in
that game, a jarring hit on running back Lawrence McCutcheon,
made SI's cover. "That was a big game because it solidified us
as a contender," says Dewey, who runs a commercial construction
business in Norman. The Bucs finished the season 10-6 to earn
their first NFC Central crown.
After helping Oklahoma to back-to-back titles in 1974 and '75,
the Selmons graduated to the NFL. Lee Roy became the first draft
pick of the expansion Buccaneers, and Dewey was chosen in the
second round. The Bucs' worst-to-first season of 1979 ended when
they lost 9-0 to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. Three
years later the Selmons were separated after Dewey was traded to
the San Diego Chargers. He spent one season with the Chargers
before returning to Norman to work as an oil and gas consultant.
In 1993 he opened his construction business.
Dewey spends football Sundays with his wife, Kathryn, their
three daughters, Shannon, 18, Megan, 16, and Lauren, 14, and
their son, Zachary, 13, watching the Bucs on television. Between
games he spends a lot of time on the phone with Lee Roy,
dissecting Tampa Bay's strengths and weaknesses. A strong
showing by the Buccaneers in the postseason would allow Dewey
and Lee Roy to hold some of those sessions in person. "If the
Bucs make the Super Bowl, we'll meet up," Dewey says. "Getting
tickets shouldn't be a problem. We still have connections in
COLOR PHOTO: WALTER IOOSS JR. [Cover of October 1, 1979 Sports Illustrated magazine featuring Dewey Selmon]